Football fans in South Korea are taking legal action to seek compensation for the "mental anguish" caused after Cristiano Ronaldo did not appear in Juventus' preseason friendly in Seoul on July 26.
Ronaldo had been contracted to play at least 45 minutes against K League All Stars according to event organisers The Fasta Inc., but the Portugal international ultimately sat out the entire game at a packed Seoul World Cup Stadium.
An online community was formed on South Korea's Naver web portal to protest Ronaldo's lack of participation and two members reached out to lawyer Kim Min-ki to file a lawsuit against the match organisers.
"Many purchased tickets to see Ronaldo. The Fasta publicised that the company had a deal with Juventus, which stipulated Ronaldo would play for at least 45 minutes and that Ronaldo would hold a fan signing event," Kim said.
Phone calls to The Fasta by Reuters were not answered, while officials at Juventus did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
The lawsuit is seeking compensation of 70,000 won ($59) per ticket, 1,000 won for the ticket commission fee and 1,000,000 won ($847) each for the mental anguish.
"Normally in such cases, the plaintiffs will be refunded the price of the tickets, but I put this under a special case since the company -- through false advertising -- took advantage of the football star's fans," Kim added.
"For now, we have two plaintiffs who sued the company, but I have been getting a lot of calls today and I assume there will be some 60,000 more.
"As for the mental anguish part, I'd like to say some of them are raucous fans -- the real avid fans. So for them it is very painful because they love Ronaldo and want to protect him, but they can't, given the situation."
The Fasta CEO Robin Chang told local broadcaster SBS that the contract stipulated Ronaldo would play 45 minutes. She said that she found out that the 34-year-old would not take part 10 minutes into the second half.
"When I went to argue with [Pavel] Nedved, the vice president of Juventus, all he said was: 'I also wish Ronaldo ran, but he doesn't want to. Sorry, there's nothing I can do.' I was so frustrated."
The Fasta issued a press release on Saturday, in which it said that Juventus did not abide by the terms of the contract. South Korea's professional soccer governing body, K League, said on Tuesday that it had sent a letter of protest to Juventus for violating the contract.